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Kyrgyz Election Update
The People’s Patriotic Movement of Kyrgyzstan, which has been campaigning publicly for the early resignation of President Askar Akaev, announced on February 14 that it had collected 28,000 signatures in support of impeaching him.
The following day, the Osh-based group With the People, For the People claimed it has 155,000 signatures in favour of extending Akaev’s current term in office. They said that by the end of February they would have the 300,000 signatures required to request a referendum on changing the constitution to allow the president to stay in power for longer.
OPPOSITION UNITES AGAINST AKAEV’S SON
Candidates in Kemin have joined forces to ensure the president’s son, Aidar Akaev, doesn’t get elected as the district’s parliamentary candidate. Jypar Jeksheev, leader of the opposition Kyrgyzstan’s Democratic Movement who is standing in the same constituency, announced at a February 12 press conference that he was teaming up with two other candidates as a blocking movement.
Human Rights Watch has written to president Akaev expressing concern that increased government repression in the run-up to elections will compromise the fairness of the ballot. The letter cites specific examples of the Kyrgyz authorities excluding opposition candidates from the elections, restricting freedom of assembly and harassing opposition supporters and civil society activists.
VOTER ROLL CONTROVERSY
The non-government Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, has called on the Central Election Commission to ensure that everyone has access to electoral rolls at polling stations. The coalition maintains the election body is denying access to the lists on the grounds that they contain confidential information and therefore cannot be publicly displayed. According to the coalition, the election code explicitly states that voter rolls should be available for public access.
The pro-government Association of Non-Profit and Non-Commercial Organisations said at a February 16 press conference it would be sending more than 3,000 observers out to polling stations throughout the country. The observers will conduct an alternative count of voters and anonymous exit-polls. The Assembly of Peoples of Kyrgyzstan, which generally takes a pro-Akaev line, announced on February 15 it would have 800 election observers ready by election day.
On February 15, the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society presented the first results from its election monitoring operation, revealing various electoral violations, including biased media coverage, bribing of voters and manipulation of voter rolls.
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